Gozo Business Chamber inundated with reports of businesses losing employees

Chamber president Joe Grech called for a holistic vision for Gozo that also respects the private sector

Dozens of Gozitans were recruited by the government and employed with Gozo Channel
Dozens of Gozitans were recruited by the government and employed with Gozo Channel

The president of the Gozo Business Chamber Joe Grech has said that the chamber had been inundated with complaints from business owners who had lost their employees over the past weeks.

“We absolutely don’t agree with this,” he said. “What happened was that the private sector was functioning and all of a sudden it found itself without employees.”

Grech was speaking on current affairs program FOCUS on TVM, where he insisted that government must have a holistic vision for Gozo, with clear targets and “everyone pulling the same rope”.

His comments came in wake of revelations by MaltaToday, that over a thousand Gozitans of voting age were recruited to jobs with the government or subcontracted agencies in Gozo, weeks before the election, leaving many major and small businesses short of staff.

The employment spree hit companies that were mostly involved in manufacturing, furniture factories and the construction industry, apart from many small enterprises.

Company owners and business leaders spoke to MaltaToday personally on the exodus of workers to the public sector.

A sizeable number of new employees joined the Gozo Channel company, which took on just under 150 workers, while others included labourers with the government, a number opting for jobs in security, carers and cleaners mainly working with those companies subcontracted by government agencies and departments.

In some cases, the staff complement trebled in size. A large number, around 200, joined the General Workers Union’s jobs scheme while 180 entered the JobsPlus job schemes, with recruitments to the GWU jobs scheme still ongoing on election day.

Over 100 new employees from the Gozo ministry were stationed at the Cittadella in Victoria. Their attendance was noted by a palm-reader machine, but this was retained after the employees complained about the reader. Eight full-time employees from the Gozo ministry were also based at the Dwejra heritage site.

The government has denied the allegations. In a short statement on Sunday, it said that it rejected the report completely and that “national statistics, as well as Eurostat statistics will be confirming that the story is incorrect, once the statistics for the first half of 2017 are published”.